Archive for December, 2012

Favorite posts of 2012




happy new year 2013



As 2012 comes to an end tonight and we welcome 2013, I am thinking about this year and all the things I accomplished. 2012 has definitely been the year of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve done so many things that I normally would not do. I hope that I continue to face my fears head-on in 2013.

To finish out the year, I thought I’d do a list of my favorite posts of the year. This was really tough to narrow down and I’m probably forgetting something, but these posts meant the most to me. From completing not one but TWO half-marathons, meeting the wonderful women of Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers, my first blog conference, becoming Yelp Elite, starting Jingle Bikes For Kids, wonderful family time, along with several struggles I faced - it’s been a memorable year.  I hope you enjoy this look back with me…



I love my blog and I really look forward to continuing to blog in 2013 and to see how it grows. I would like to thank each and every one of you for following and showing interest in my babbling. It helps to keep me sane.

Wishing you all a SAFE and Happy New Year!!

Flanagans on a Friday…


It has been way too long since we’ve been to Flanagan’s Irish Pub in Dunedin. As in a couple years too long. So when my sister-in-law Jenna mentioned it on Facebook Friday morning, I called her and said we’re in if you go. Didn’t have to ask us twice! It ended up being Nick, Jenna, Autumn, me, hubby, and my mom. Family fun!

I highly recommend the cream of potato soup and the fish and chips, and get the lunch option because the dinner serving is HUGE!! I love to have malt vinegar on mine. Paired with a pint of Guinness and you are all set for a great night!

And we were in luck Friday night because Noel Cooney was there singing Christmas songs and Irish tunes. We have seen him twice before and he’s always entertaining. I highly recommend making a reservation if you go on a night when he is there – you can make reservations for parties of 6 or more.

The rainy Friday night in Dunedin was a great time! Oh and did I mention that before we went to Flanagan’s, hubby and I ran into Stirling Tropical Wines right next door for a quick wine tasting. I left with a bottle of Mango Mamma wine after tasting it. If you like mango, you will love this wine which is nice and sweet.

Here is our night in pictures…






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Do you have a local pub that you like to go to?

Books of 2012


This year, I set a goal of reading 40 books for the year on Goodreads. As we quickly approach the end of 2012, I am 5 books behind that goal. I would have loved to meet that goal and even pass it up. Alas, that did not happen but I will instead focus on the 35 books that I have read.


Edge of the Past (Edge, #2)    Pretty Amy    Sharp: A Memoir    Terra (Terrestrials, #1)    When it Happens to You    Love Anthony

Heart of the Matter     Twenty Weeks     Swim: An eShort Story     A Three Dog Life    Lucky Man: A Memoir    No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running

Whole Latte Life     Life on the Edge (Edge, #1)    Life From Scratch    One Good Dog     Poser   What Alice Forgot

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)     Something Like Normal     A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table    Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm    Still Alice    Radiate

Starters (Starters and Enders, #1)      Dog Years: A Memoir     Home Front     The Fifth Child     The Long Run    The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

The Fault in Our Stars    The Color of Heaven     Sing You Home     Chasing Rainbows    Comfort and Joy


As you can tell, I have a wide variety of reading interests. I enjoy YA Lit, and always take recommendations from my sister-in-law Jenna and her blog Making The Grade. If she suggests I read a book, she’s usually right and I will love it. This was absolutely the case with:

  •  The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  • The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
  •  Starters by Lissa Price
  •  Radiate by Marley Gibson
  •  Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (read about meeting Trish here!)
  •  Life On The Edge by Jennifer Comeaux
  •  Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
  •  Edge of the Past by Jennifer Comeaux


I also love books about dogs and their relationship with people. A favorite author of mine is Jon Katz and I have several books of his on my to-read bookshelf this year.


For all of you runners out there who feel like you’re not really a runner (ooh that’s me!), I strongly suggest you read No Need For Speed by John “The Penguin” Bingham. You can read my review on it here.


A new favorite author of mine this year is Lisa Genova. After reading Left Neglected in 2011, I had to read Still Alice. Both are thought-provoking, about very strong women facing medical crises that affect their lives and the lives of their families. 2012 also brought her newest book, Love Anthony, about a grieving mother, her autistic son, and new friendships. What I loved most about this book, was the voice of Anthony and her perspective on everything. Very touching…


This year, I also took part in my my first book club, thanks to the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers. The theme is to read books written by bloggers. The first book we read was A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. What a fantastic read this was, I enjoyed every bit of it. The second book we read was Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess). This book was laugh out loud funny and I thought it was the perfect book for a book club setting. You can read about our night out here. What a fun time we had talking about the book!


I also had the pleasure of reading a book by a fellow blogger who I follow and talk to on Facebook. Terra by Gretchen Powell is a must read. I just finished it last week – you can read my blog post and review about it here and here. I’m already thinking about reading it again.


So you’re probably wondering which of these books was my favorite? And my answer would be, you want me to pick just one?! That is a tough question! I enjoyed so many of them, all for different reasons. But if I had to pick just one, my favorite read of 2012 would be… A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. All around a wonderful book about food and family, meeting her husband all because of her blog, and sharing a recipe in each chapter. Loved it!!


And because I hate just picking one, here are my top 5 books of 2012:

  • A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
  • Terra by Gretchen Powell
  • Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
  • The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  • Love Anthony by Lisa Genova


I’d love for you to follow me on Goodreads… You can read my Goodreads profile here and add me as a friend! For 2013, I will set another goal of 40 books for the year and see if I can hit that goal this time. There is certainly no shortage of books on my to-read list!


What was your favorite book of 2012? Do you like to set reading goals for yourself?

Christmas Day FUN!!


After a very nice Christmas Eve, our Christmas Day was a perfect wrap-up to the long holiday weekend. Another Christmas has come and gone… It seems like I blink and it’s over. It was just Thanksgiving and now we are quickly approaching 2013. I was at Publix yesterday and they already had Valentine cards out. We all seriously need to slow down…. Like Blue! He knows how to relax….




But now, I want to share our fantastic Christmas Day! After a quiet morning at home with hubby and Blue and Ozzie, we headed over to Nick & Jenna’s for the afternoon and a FANTASTIC dinner. Of course much of the afternoon was all about Autumn, as it should be. I cannot get enough of her silliness and laughter. And the older she gets, the sillier she gets. Having a bad day? Listen to Autumn for a few minutes and you will forget every single problem you are facing. I wish she could follow me everywhere.

Anyhow, little miss Autumn got a pink BB gun for Christmas after showing interest in Nick’s which he recently bought to shoot in the backyard. And before you go all “you’ll shoot your eye out” on them, you have to know that it is safety first. Not to mention Autumn is an ace shot. Water bottles and soda cans were being shot with unbelievable precision – by Autumn. No need to worry about her and boys, that’s for sure.

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Nick, Jenna, and Jenni also had fun with the BB guns. Not sure why I didn’t shoot it… Oh I know, I was too busy taking pictures! You can’t really tell in this picture, but hubby is holding Autumn’s pink gun.



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There was also swinging and backyard fun. Thank goodness she tolerates all my picture taking and is quite the little poser, both with me and hubby.

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Then it was time to open presents! Autumn very much loved the My Little Pony set we got her. A girl can never have too many ponies, just ask Autumn.


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And then there were gifts from Grandmommy and Jenni too. Silly girl asked why everyone likes to give her so many presents and we told her because we love you!!!


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Scarlett had to get in on the action too… After presents, it was time for Scrabble. If it’s a holiday and we have time, there is a Scrabble game. It’s genetic in this family. Unfortunately this game did not go my way and I kept trying to sell my vowels…

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For dinner, Nick made a deep fried turkey. If you haven’t had one, you should definitely try one. It is so juicy and tender. So yummy!!



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While we waited for dinner to be ready, Jenni and I went outside with Autumn so she could ride her new bike and wear her fabulous helmet and cute gloves.

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Autumn’s Christmas!


Autumn’s bike!


I couldn’t let the day pass without a picture of me and my honey… The weather was nice, so we sat out on the patio while the turkey cooked and Autumn played on her swing. And because you can never watch it too much, A Christmas Story was on all day. That movie never gets old.






Time to eat! Along with the fried turkey, there were also mashed potatoes, rolls, pasta salad, corn, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli casserole. I’m full again just thinking about it. Thank you for the delicious dinner Nick and Jenna!


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After dinner and dessert and we were all stuffed (and discussing how awesome stretchy pants are), we went outside to watch Nick and his new interest, slacklining. Every heard of it? I wanted to try it but I imagined myself throwing out my back and that just would not have been cool.



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It was such a wonderful day. Good company, good food, and lots of laughter. My kind of day…. On the way home, we saw a beautiful sunset. I thought of Daddy all day long, wishing he was with us, having a hard time believing that this was our third Christmas without him, and seeing this sunset reminded me that he is with us, always.


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How did you spend your Christmas? Do you celebrate any special traditions?

{book review} Terra by Gretchen Powell



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When a fellow blogger writes a book, you have to read it. Especially when she starts a second blog about the writing of her book and self-publishing, and you get more and more excited about it as she gets closer and closer to publishing it. So, when it was released on Amazon on December 11, I immediately downloaded it on my Kindle, anxious to read it.

And when your sister-in-law, asks you to write a guest review for her fabulous YA Lit review blog Making The Grade, you jump at the chance. I am happy to share my guest review with you here…


Gretchen Powell has written her first book titled Terra, a YA dystopian book about a girl, her brother, and their life in Genesis X-16. Terra’s life is changed forever when a discovery leads her to a world she never thought she would be a part of and a boy named Adam who is unlike any other she’s ever met.

I love this book. From the beginning, I was hooked. The characters are real and likeable, and a perfect fit for the world that Gretchen has created. I was held captive by the entire story line – the interaction between Terra and the government was as enthralling as that between her and Adam. And the odds they face are unimaginable… Acid rain that keeps them inside for days, a quarantine line that can’t be crossed, and meals that come in pill form.

I admit that there are some dystopian novels that I just cannot get through, the characters and worlds that the authors create are far too complicated. Not the case with Terra. And while I can never imagine living in a time or place where the government has divided the people so far, or where I would have to go out and scavenge for recyclables in exchange for currency to live off of, Terra is very easy to empathize with because her character is so REAL. Forgetting about the futuristic theme of the book for a moment, Terra struggles with loss, fear, and desire. Real qualities.

Terra can be compared to the likes of The Hunger Games and Starters. Gretchen Powell can absolutely hold her own in the YA world and will go far with Terra. There is no doubt that I want – and need – to read more. I cannot wait for the next one. In the meantime, I am sure I will read this again and again.


Terra is available on Amazon (Kindle and paperback) and Barnes and Noble (Nook).



For more on Gretchen Powell, you can follow her on:

Honey, I Shrunk The Gretchen

Gretchen Powell

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